A fun day at TEDx Melbourne

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —January 18, 2009
Filed in Communication

Yesterday I spend the day with 40+ other TED enthusiasts at Monash Uni watching and discussing TED videos. We believe it was the first independent TED event in the world. Lot’s of interesting people there including presentation guru, Les Posen, who has just returned from MacWorld after giving a two-day workshop on a cognitive perspective on using Keynote, and Stuart French, who told a gruesome story of murder in his backyard. There was also my new Jelly co-working colleagues Susan, Pieter, Sjors and Jason. Sjors had a big hand in organising the event. Great job!

Most of the day was spent watching the videos and chatting about them in small and large groups. It was great for sparking new ideas. There was one live speaker, Dr Ninian Peckitt, who told us about how he rebuilds people’s faces using manufactured implants made from titanium. This talk was fascinating if not a little gruesome. Not for the faint hearted. Amazingly there are strong political forces against manufactured implants because they are less expensive and surgeons don’t make as much income from using them. Major face surgery that would normally cost $80,000 can be done for $40,000 using Ninian’s approach.

Here are the videos we watched:

The video that had the most impact for me was Phil Zimbardo’s talk about the Stanford Prison experiment. In particular I liked the point that more often than not it’s not the bad apple that’s the problem, it’s the bad barrel. This got me thinking about why we often go after the bad apple. Perhaps it’s because our major sensemaking device is our ability to tell ourselves stories and the most compelling stories are about individuals. At lunch Jason made the point that perhaps groups are represented in stories by archetypes or gods so that the story remains compelling. This idea has lots of ramifications for blame, scapegoats, performance appraisals etc.

Just a word of warning on the Zimbardo video. It contains many pictures of the Abu Ghraib tragedy, which are shocking.


About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Mike Wagner says:

    This is a wonderful way to enlarge the impact of TED and the various presenters they’ve engaged.
    The TEDx Melbourne experiment has my mind racing regarding my own community here in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.
    Thanks for sharing what you’ve come UP with down under.
    Keep creating,

  2. Reading this at Atlanta airport amidst last minute preparations for the next TED in Long Beach. Fantastic to see these TED talks spreading across the world like this. Can’t wait to hear more about this day. Thanks to all who organised and took the time to attend and engage. You’re helping change the way the world thinks!
    Chris Anderson, TED Curator

  3. Cheng says:

    Hi Shawn,
    Good to meet you at TEDx on Saturday and I’m glad to know that you got something out of it! I’m sore that I was too busy organising background things for the event to sit in on discussion. Something to consider for the next event.
    The Zimbardo talk was mind-blowing. As he said, situations influence behaviour. But situations are created by systems, Which are in turn created by people, who learn how ‘the system’ works from previous situations etc. And history repeats itself.
    It’s important then not to focus solely on the individual, but to understand the system that produces situations, and teach people new ways to deal with it, to produce new systems.
    Hopefully things like TEDx motivate people to keep educating themselves and initiate change.

  4. Thanks Shawn for your post and for attending. Can’t wait until we can upload Dr Ninian Peckitt’s video.

  5. Heidi Preis Barry says:

    Thanks Shawn for posting and for helping to keep me up to date with what’s happening “out there”. I haven’t even had time to look at and comment on the content, just had to talk about the TEDx concept which I think is great. What a wonderful resource! As Cheng hopes this will certainly help to motivate me and hopefully my workshop participants. Looking forward to some inspiring moments watching some of these speeches.

Comments are closed.